Unwanted or inappropriate chewing is a pretty common issue with dogs, especially with puppies. There are a couple of main reasons that our fur babies will chew.
First, puppies use their mouths to explore the world around them. Since they can’t really feel things out like we do with our hands, they’ll often chew on shoes, furniture, or even your hands and feet.
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Secondly, puppies go through teething just like human babies do. A puppy’s baby teeth will begin falling out, generally between three to six months of age and will be replaced by permanent teeth around four to six months of age. Teething is a painful process as it irritates the gums, so a puppy will tend to chew more during this time as it helps to relieve the discomfort.
But if inappropriate chewing isn’t corrected in a timely manner, it can become a long-standing and destructive problem.
Here are 5 steps you should take to eliminate inappropriate chewing:
RULE OUT MEDICAL PROBLEMS
The first step is to make sure that your puppy doesn’t have any underlying medical issues. A poor diet can lead to nutritional deficiency. If this results in gastrointestinal problems it can cause nausea which can trigger chewing as a coping mechanism. Regular trips to the vet can help you rule out underlying medical issues as a cause for chewing.
PUPPY PROOF YOUR HOME
Puppy-proofing your home has a dual purpose. Not only will it serve to protect your belongings from unwanted chewing, but it will also protect your puppy from potential danger. A good rule of thumb is to think of anything you would want to keep out of reach of a child.
- Household cleaners and chemicals
- Potentially toxic plants or flowers
- Electrical cords and electronic devices
Even if certain items may not harm your dog, remove any items that may pique his curiosity such as shoes, socks, children’s toys and anything at a low enough level he can reach them. This could be anything from picture frames to magazines.
Make sure to block access to rooms that are not puppy-proofed. A baby gate is a great thing to have around for confining a puppy to a safe area when you’re away from home. Many dog parents may also opt for crate training for the times that their dog can not be supervised.
ENCOURAGE APPROPRIATE CHEWING
Giving your puppy something good to chew will help form good behavior. Each puppy will have his own preference so it may take a couple tries to find out what he likes. Nylabones, dental chews and kong toys (provided they are the appropriate size) are all good selections for good chewing. Avoid things like rawhide or bones as small pieces can get stuck in the digestive system and cause serious health issues. Also, don’t give him toys that resemble things you don’t want him chewing on. For example, don’t give your puppy an old shoe…he’ll have no way of knowing the difference between an old shoe for chewing and that brand new pair you just purchased.
DISCOURAGE INAPPROPRIATE CHEWING
When you catch your puppy chewing on something he shouldn’t be, redirect his attention to an appropriate chewing object. Make sure to praise him when he starts to chew it. Gradually he will learn which items are his to chew on, and which are not. If bad chewing habits have already been established before a dog comes into your home, there are taste deterrents such as bitter apple spray that can be made at home with all natural ingredients. These sprays provide a noxious taste that can persuade your dog to leave objects alone.
PLAY WITH YOUR DOG
Routinely playing with and exercising with your puppy is a great way to tire him out…and a tired dog is usually a well behaved dog. But not only does it help to curb unwanted behavior…more importantly it helps to strengthen the bond you have with him and it also is great for his health!